What Is the Difference Between Smoke and Vapour?

For those of you who have been vaping for a while you have probably had a lot of people come up to you worrying about “vape smoke” and whether it is dangerous, or whether second hand vapour (USA spelling: vapor) can cause harm.

smoke and vapour image - showing the differenceWhile it may seem as though smoke and vapour are similar, they certainly look similar, but they are actually very different. Lets look at the differences between smoke and vapour.

What Is Smoke?

When you burn something, such as cigarettes, you are dramatically altering its chemical composition.

Smoke is made from the visible molecules of carbon, plus whatever molecules were found in what is being burnt, plus other byproducts of the combustion process.

In simple terms, when you burn something, many different chemicals are released. Many of which can be dangerous to inhale. This is one of the reasons why smoking cigarettes and second-hand smoke from them is so dangerous.

What Is Vapour?

Technically speaking, what is produced isn’t vapour at all, but aerosol, but since everyone uses the term vapour this is what we will stick with.

When you vaporise a liquid, such as an e-liquid, its state will alter. But unlike cigarettes, the vapour will only be comprised of the molecules found in the original liquid.

As the molecule produced by vaping are a liquid rather than a solid, as is the case with cigarette smoke, there is not the same risk involved. And is much safer for your lungs and cardiovascular system.

What Is The Difference Between Smoke And Vapour?

When you light a cigarette it will produce smoke, while vaporising e-liquid like naked 100 when vaping produces vapour.

Despite their physical appearance there is very little in common between smoke and vapour.

The only thing that smoke and vapour have in common is nicotine. Smoke from tobacco contains thousands of chemicals, many of which are proven carcinogens that can cause cause cancer and other serious issues.

Vaporised e-liquid is usually made from vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and food grade flavourings, which are considered safe.

E-liquid and tobacco comparison - image for article
Image adapted from https://www.vaporsolo.com/e-liquids/ and https://pixabay.com/

When it comes to the smell of both, it is clear that tobacco smoke lingers for a long time, unlike vapour from vapes.

Vapour clouds are denser, and tend to dissipate slower but their smell is much more pleasant than smoke.

If you smoke inside you will notice that any fabric, walls and furniture will become stained.

Tar is one of the main reasons for this staining. This is a toxic resinous mixture that is one of the reasons why smoking tobacco is so dangerous.

We should also make sure not to forget about the other byproducts of combustion, such as carbon monoxide, which alongside the tar leaves that dirty, yellow stain we all recognise.

The vegetable glycerin (VG) and Propylene Glycol (PG) found in vapes will not cause this yellow staining. The vapour may cause a thin, blurry coating on glass surfaces but this is easily cleaned up.

Another difference is the temperature

The cigarette coal burns at around 600°C (1112°F), rising to 900°C (1652°F) when taking a drag.

E-cigs vaporise liquid at a much lower temperature, usually no higher than 200°C (482°F). If you have ever exhaled onto your arm then you will know how cool vape smoke is.

In Conclusion

As you can plainly see, while the appearance of tobacco and vape smoke are similar, there are some considerable differences between the two.

Vape smoke is a much safer alternative to smoke produced from cigarettes and other tobacco-based products.


Interesting related article: “Vaping vs. smoking.”